Republican candidates for Kentucky Governor debate in La Grange
LA GRANGE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Four men running to lead the state of Kentucky faced voters Tuesday night for a candidate debate in La Grange.
We're six weeks away from the primaries so everything was on the table, and the four Republican candidates for governor debated everything from coal to casinos.
It's one of several Republican gubernatorial debates held recently across Kentucky.
Tuesday night, Matt Bevin, James Comer, Hal Heiner and Will T. Scott met at La Grange Baptist in front of more than 200 people many of whom are potential voters.
The state pension crisis was the first item up for debate. The moderator asked how Kentucky's next governor can ensure retirement funds will not run out.
“We've got to freeze the existing plan we need to be able to fulfill the obligations that we've made to our retirees,” said Matt Bevin.
“We have to increase the retirement age we also have to go from a defined benefit to a defined compensation,” said James Comer.
“We have to stop the accrual of new liabilities today by going from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan and we need a 30-year solution so we can honor commitments we've made in the past,” said Hal Heiner.
“A pension contract under constitutional law is a contract you cannot terminate,” said Will T. Scott. “You can't change it, we can't do away with it, we have to keep the promise we made for 60 years it has to be paid this state can't file bankruptcy.
Louisville's mayor backs a local option sales tax, but what about Kentucky? Is the idea good for the entire state? Scott was the only candidate who said yes.
The four also addressed The Affordable Care Act and changes they'd like to see in health coverage at the local level, how they'd bring better paying jobs to Kentucky, and why coal is so important across the Commonwealth.
They all even support required drug testing for elected officials.
“When I was a military officer,” said Bevin, “I was regularly drug tested. Why should we expect anything less or demand anything less from publicly elected officials?
“If we have politicians that are abusing drugs they need to go, I strongly support that,” said Comer. “I'll be the first politician to take a drug test and I believe that's just a prerequisite to serving the state.
“Hey,” said Scott, “I'm in favor of testing politicians because even if you don't, you ought to vote them out or even make it voluntary and if they don't step up and do it vote them out.”
“Yea I would absolutely support drug testing,” said Heiner. “It's an area in Kentucky that we have some severe difficulties. We're ranked third in overdose deaths per capita.”
The winner in the May primary will go up against the presumed Democratic nominee Jack Conway in November.
The four Republican candidates will debate at the Louisville Forum on Wednesday, April 8th at noon at Vincenzo's restaurant in downtown Louisville. WDRB's Lawrence Smith will serve as moderator.
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